Hardening of the arteries, or “atherosclerosis,” was assumed to be a “modern” disease caused by today’s lifestyle and bad food choices … until now. Scientists have used whole body computed tomography (CT) scans on mummies from four ancient civilizations spanning over 4,000 years and found that they too suffered from atherosclerosis! The new study, published in the journal The Lancet, examined mummies from ancient Egypt and ancient Peru, as well as  Ancestral Puebloans and Unangan hunter-gatherers. Signs of hardening of the arteries were found in all of the populations, regardless of the diet and lifestyle of that population. Some of the populations were farmers, some were foragers, some lived mostly on fish, and some were hunters and lived mostly on meat.The researchers concluded that “the presence of atherosclerosis in premodern human beings suggests that the disease is an inherent component of human aging and not characteristic of any specific diet or lifestyle.”
Credit: Dr. Michael MiyamotoEgyptologist Gomaa Abdel-maksoud prepares a mummy for a CT scan. The researchers were looking for evidence of arterial disease in the mummies. This mummy, Hatiay, who lived between 1550 and 1295 BC, had extensive vascular disease. credit